Shortness of Breath in Teens

If you've noticed that your teen has a hard time breathing or is huffing and puffing after very little activity, it can be quite scary. There are many things that could be causing your teen to be short of breath, but medical attention is essential because some causes can be quite serious, according to the website 4.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The medical definition of shortness of breath is dyspnea, and it occurs when your teen isn't able to breath normally and feels like she can't get enough air 134. She might feel a tightness in her chest or feel like she's suffocating, according to In some cases, shortness of breath is temporary and goes away when the environmental or lifestyle factors causing the shortness of breath are eliminated 134. In other cases, shortness of breath is caused by an underlying medical condition that must be treated to reduce symptoms 134.

Common Causes

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Extreme physical exertion can cause your teen to have a hard time breathing, but usually discontinuing the exercise will resolve the problem. Some teens experience shortness of breath if they visit areas that have a high elevation or that have very warm or very cold temperatures, according to Circulation, a journal by the American Heart Association 134. Having a cold that clogs your teen's sinuses can also make it more difficult to breathe, but the problem goes away as the virus clears up. Exposure to dust, cigarette smoke and environmental pollutants can also lead to temporary shortness of breath 134.

More Serious Health Problems

If your teen's shortness of breath occurs often, it could signal the presence of an underlying medical condition 134. Asthma is a common problem among children and can cause difficulty breathing. Anemia can also cause shortness of breath 134. It occurs when your teen doesn't get enough iron, and the disorder can also cause fatigue and pale skin. Chronic allergies to dust, pollen and mold can also negatively impact your teen's ability to breathe. If your teen is obese, he might also become short of breath. Anxiety disorders, panic attacks, heart problems and lung disorders can also lead to shortness of breath 134.


Healthy Living Tips for Teenagers

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Don't ignore shortness of breath in your teenager 134. Unless she's exercising or vacationing in high altitude or extreme weather conditions, shortness of breath is concerning and you should seek medical attention immediately 134. Because shortness of breath is a symptom of many conditions, illnesses and diseases, it's crucial to determine what's causing your teen's breathlessness 134. Once her doctor figures out what's causing it, he can treat it effectively so your teen can breathe normally again.